Richard Teerlink (President of Harley Davidson): How to reinvent an organization

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Richard Teerlink has been responsible for the revitalization of this American icon in 1985 was about to close its doors. Investing in product quality, customer satisfaction and human capital Teerlink Harley managed to return to its place today.

This article is based on the conference Richard Teerlink Expomanagement gave in the May 21, 2004 (and as my previous post, I have recovered from my archive of articles written for and she believed lost forever) Richard Teerling

For the lucky ones who were able to attend the event he explained how he had managed to increase the market share of Harley 13% (in 1985) to 49% today and what changes were made in the organization of which back then was CFO.

The difficult time to acknowledge one's mistakes

Richard Teerlink, the most difficult in the conversion of Harley was to convince the managers themselves that it was necessary conversion.

"For change to occur, the first to change must be managers."

In the early 80's, in a few months, the United States were invaded by Japanese motorcycles sold at much lower prices than Harley. Managers and employees of Harley thought the Harley brand could never lose market share (nearly 60%) thought that the Japanese bikes could not be robust or good-quality (or its price or its appearance) and also , Americans would not buy Japanese bikes. The three assumptions proved false. In 1985 its market share had fallen to 13% and Harley Davidson was near bankruptcy.Harley Davidson

For Harley executives had several options: give up and close, invest in marketing and try a traditional solution, or reinvent the entire organization or fail risking getting the best of success. They were shuffled 3 and there who took the first, the whole enterprise, in the end chose the third.

Richard Teerlink insisted that resistance to change is inevitable, but can be reduced by providing clarity about expected and how things will change. Normally people do not resist change itself, if not to be changed themselves.

Moving from survival to renewal

To Teerlink the secret is that all the company must go to work for a common cause. A good leader is getting your people to work to achieve common goals because they want themselves, not because they have to.

This is achieved by creating an environment that promotes 5 factors:

  1. Being the case of what happens in the world.
  2. Responsibility for each individual company.
  3. Training and lifelong learning.
  4. personal involvement in the projects.
  5. mutual appreciation between the whole team.

In the case of Harley, the common reason that fight was decided to convert a company that sold motorcycles in a business that sells motorcycle reason to go and live the "American Nostalgia". And it worked.

What is the role of a leader in reinventing a company

Teerlink says that a good leader should ask the following day: Am I making resources for people who work with me to carry out their work? Am I sure that my employees can grow as individuals and develop?

Why workers are the greatest competitive advantage of a company

In a company it is important to differentiate your products and processes with features that distinguish them from those of competitors. But the main difference between Harley and a company logo or another is the commitment of the employees themselves. When employees are fully identified with the company great value for customers it is generated and these perceived and become part of the "cause" for which they work.

Strategies to create a powerful brand

For Steelink there are 3 key factors in maximizing the value perceived by people, about a brand:

  1. The reputation for quality and brand trust.
  2. The reputation that the company makes money.
  3. Having a large market share.

To achieve these 3 points are needed 3 requirements:

  1. Familiarity with your business (know exactly what you do).
  2. Getting to know your customer.
  3. Make attention to detail.

Cita the Teerlink al respecto "What we sell is the ability of an accountant of 43 years of dressing in black leather, driving through small villages and get teenagers afraid of him.”

Attracting new customers and at the same time achieve the loyalty of existing customers

Again, Teerlink and Tom Peters also agreed on this point. For both the secret it is to forget about the product (we start from the basis that the product is good) and focus on connecting emotionally with the client.

Quote Steerlink "Give the customer a reason to drive a motorcycle and have a good time”.

Obviously what you want is to sell motorcycles, but all marketing efforts focus on communicating things they can do and feel, while driving or traveling from one place to another, with his Harley motorcycles.

How to increase your profits by setting supercompetitivo

At the risk of repeating myself, Teerlink said Tom Peters the same as "change is needed to accommodate the FTL speed at which our environment moves ".

No choice but to surround yourself with people who think for themselves, to be responsible for their actions and constantly adapt. Hence the importance that all company employees know what is the mission of this. Otherwise the changes would have different goals in different areas of it.

Cita the Teerlink "There are two fixed truths in life: one is that we will die one day, the other is that change is inevitable.”

But Teerlink makes clear that change for change's not a good thing, should be changed for some reason. Though normally, most of the changes that take place in a company are to correct past mistakes management or trial.

In closing ... a couple of stories that I would comment:

One is an advertisement for Harley oriented convey quality and robustness of their bikes, while reinforcing the message of the "American Nostalgia": The ad shows a 3 American tiparrones, size XXL, with their beards and long hair, dresses leather and studs, and with his Harley parked in front. Text quote: "Would you sell it to these guys a defective bike and lost oil? US Niether. Harley-Davidson motorcycles... "(.... I do not remember the rest ...). I found terrific !!!

The other was a comment the same Teerlink about "the pressure of working in a company where customers tattoo the brand on breasts and forearms"... really should be an experience ... Have you ever felt something like a brand?

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